BOULDER, Colo. -- Newly appointed NATO president Mary Szarmach is no stranger to the issues facing tobacco retailers. She has been involved in the industry since her family started Smoker Friendly International in 1984 and has been on the National Association of Tobacco Outlets board since the trade associations’ founding. For the past several years, the Smoker Friendly vice president of trade marketing and government relations held the position of NATO’s vice president.
“It has been very important to me and to our company to stay abreast of issues that affect our business on a daily basis,” Szarmach wrote in an open letter to NATO members this week. “My goal as NATO president is to continue the fine work that has been done in previous years, to support Tom (Briant) and his staff in the work that they do on our behalf, and to remember the mission of this organization on a daily basis.”
Szarmach warned that 2014 could be “as busy as ever” in terms of tobacco-related legislations and regulations, but that NATO would continue to fight any negative proposals put out on the local or national level.
“As NATO members, I encourage all of you to get involved and fight the upcoming tobacco issues,” she said. “With lawmakers continuing to propose more tax increases on tobacco products and other restrictions and regulations, it takes participation from all of us to protect not only our companies and livelihoods, but also our industry and the right to buy and sell legal tobacco products.”
With the well-prepared team of consultants on board at NATO, Szarmach encouraged retailers to “utilize their talents and knowledge to educate yourself and ultimately help win these upcoming battles.”
In addition to Szarmach, the NATO board also appointed Jeff Steinbock of Uhles Tobacco Co. as vice president, Anne Flint of Cumberland Farms as secretary and Bob Roberts of Smok ‘em Inc. as treasurer.